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Mandisa, Grammy award-winning 'American Idol' alum, dead at 47

Soulful gospel artist Mandisa, a Grammy-winning singer who got her start as a contestant on 'American Idol' in 2006, has died, according to a statement on her verified social media. She was 47. (Mark Humphrey / AP via CNN Newsource) Soulful gospel artist Mandisa, a Grammy-winning singer who got her start as a contestant on 'American Idol' in 2006, has died, according to a statement on her verified social media. She was 47. (Mark Humphrey / AP via CNN Newsource)
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Soulful gospel artist Mandisa, a Grammy-winning singer who got her start as a contestant on “American Idol” in 2006, has died, according to a statement on her verified social media. She was 47.

“We can confirm that yesterday Mandisa was found in her home deceased. At this time we do not know the cause of death or any further details,” the post reads. “We ask for your prayers for her family and close knit circle of friends during this incredibly difficult time. Mandisa was a voice of encouragement and truth to people facing life’s challenges all around the world.”

Mandisa resided in Nashville, according to The Tennessean. CNN has reached out to her representative for comment.

Born Mandisa Lynn Hundley in Citrus Heights, California, she got her start singing in church. Music became an integral part of her life.

She studied vocal jazz at American River College in Sacramento, California, before attending Fisk University in Nashville, where she was a member of the famed Fisk University Jubilee singers.

She auditioned for “American Idol” in 2005 and ended up a contestant on the fifth season of the singing competition show, which aired in 2006.

Even among her fellow competitors, who included Katherine McPhee, Kellie Pickler, Chris Daughtry and eventual season winner Taylor Hicks, Mandisa stood out for her powerful voice and shining spirit.

Her elimination from the competition’s top 10 didn’t stop her from pursuing her professional dreams. Mandisa would go on to release her debut album, “True Beauty,” in 2007. It debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart and earned Mandisa her first Grammy nominations.

Five more albums would follow: “It’s Christmas” in 2008; “Freedom” in 2009; “What If We Were Real” in 2011; “Overcomer” in 2013; and “Out of the Dark” in 2017.

“Overcomer” earned her the Grammy for best contemporary Christian music album in 2014.

Along with success, there were also some tough times which challenged her faith. According to Mandisa’s website, “After the prayers of a multitude didn’t stop her dearest friend from succumbing to cancer, Mandisa withdrew, wrestled with God and fell into a deep depression.”

“To be honest, that’s not how I thought things were going to happen. I was disappointed with God,” she said of the death of her friend Kisha. “I was mad because as I prayed for her, I believed that God was going to heal her. I’m not the kind of person who shakes my fist at the Lord and yells and screams. I just shut down and started turning to food again for comfort.”

Mandisa documented her mental health struggles in her 2022 memoir, “Out of the Dark: My Journey Through the Shadows to Find God’s Joy” with the hope of helping others.

“I want to encourage the people who may have a loved one who is maybe in the middle of a mental health issue,” she said in an interview shared on Instagram in 2022. “Don’t think that even if your messages are not being responded to that they don’t hear them.”

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